Surprised by consulting firm's recommendation

I am as perplexed as Mr Tan Kar Quan in learning that a consultant from McKinsey & Company believes that employers should sponsor training for staff who have been made redundant (How do firms gain by reskilling displaced staff?; May 30).

It would be most interesting to hear from this consulting firm how such a move will benefit a company that is trying to cut costs, and what would motivate any employer to spend money on reskilling workers it intends to lay off.

In the book titled The Firm, author Duff McDonald wrote: "McKinsey may be the single greatest legitimiser of mass layoffs than anyone, anywhere, at any time in modern history."

McKinsey & Company is the personification of downsizing, if ever there was one. The appearance of its consultants at almost every organisation heralds the beginning of the end for a sizeable number of employees at various levels.

How do employees respect bosses who delegate such crucial matters to management consultants when they are supposed to provide strategic leadership to their companies?

When employers do this, it seems as if they are outsourcing their responsibility.

Companies engage consultants with a solution already in mind. Consultant firms come in to legitimise the way that the client intends to resolve their situation. In this way, the client can always shift the blame for a significant retrenchment exercise to the consultants.

Companies like McKinsey are known for an unwavering belief in a free market system that values efficiency over any concern for the welfare of the workforce.

It would be a major departure from its renowned role as the "Grim Reaper of layoffs", if McKinsey & Company provides specific knowledge and task deliverables on how to get employers to invest in reskilling their displaced workers.

Edmund Khoo Kim Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2018, with the headline 'Surprised by consulting firm's recommendation'. Print Edition | Subscribe